I Can’t Imagine
The album opens with Lynne suggesting that “blue is how I paint my mood today” – as is so often the way, loneliness starts to sound pretty swiftly like loveliness, feeling blue never seemed so good. Shelby Lynne’s voice will do that for you though. And her writing. And – here – her production. I Can’t Forget, released last year after four-year gap.
It has the acoustic hues of Rickie Lee Jones’ Traffic From Paradise album, but where that was always slightly playful, this has a kd Lang-like earnestness, certainly in album-opener, Paper Van Gogh. The Lang moods return on the gorgeous lilt of Better.
The playing in support is phenomenal, a masterclass is subtlety. And in yet another series of songs about the South – and its various impacts – Lynne can one minute channel Neil Young (Down Here) the next she’s somewhere near the places Norah Jones always runs to when the record company leash loosens (Love Is Strong).
Lynne’s work is one giant, sprawling canvas. Well, that’s how I like to see (hear) it. To me there’s little separation, just shades, moods. Her originals are informed by the standards she’s covered – at least in her delivery. Her writing though continues to evolve, mature, surprise. And within that the textures she uses. Be In The Now a simple invocation, it might say all that much at first but the dobro fills in the colour, giving a Union Station feel.
I Can’t Forget starts to feel like some kind of masterpiece though, when we sit in deep with songs like Following You and Son of A Gun. And this from someone who has given us so much already.
She’s all too underrated still. This album is really lovely – a joy to take in, a treat for the ears.